Come on America: Listen to COVID-19 experts

It’s summer so the virus must be over, right?

Not so fast.

Pull that mask back up over your nose.

A coronavirus resurgence is wiping out two months of progress sending infections to scary new levels across the southern and western United States. Hospital administrators and health experts are warning that politicians and a cooped-up public are letting a calamity unfold.

The Confederated Tribes have been on the cutting edge of safety precautions, even ahead of Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who has been a leader across the nation, and remain diligent in their efforts to curb the spread, but the Umatilla Indian Reservation is not immune to COVID-19.

For the longest time, even though leaders knew it was a matter of when not if, the CTUIR had only that first case of COVID-19 way back when the virus was discovered in the state. We went months without another case, likely because of the shut-down of CTUIR entities and strict social gathering restrictions placed on Reservation residents by the Incident Command Team.

It was working. Screenings by Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center of 100 people on three different occasions turned up no positive tests.

But then a case here and a case there showed up.

As of press time Yellowhawk was listing 11 cases and for the first time one case was recorded as a hospitalization.

Of course, there is plenty of talk about others.

Why is it that testing positive, or even the possibility of being exposed, has become secretive and fodder for gossip?

It’s bad enough COVID-19 and being safe about it, like wearing a mask, has been made into a political issue.

If you wear a mask you’re a bleeding-heart liberal and if you don’t you’re a proud Trump supporter? How does that work?

Shouldn’t we all just listen to the experts and try to get rid of this stuff?

I hear people say that COVID-19 is going to be over after the November election. Is one of the political parties in the United States – the earth’s coronavirus hotspot – so powerful that it can stop a worldwide pandemic?

Man, America is full of itself.

I stopped in a busy Arrowhead Travel Plaza on Sunday morning to buy some apple juice (as far as my wife knows) and I became incensed because the truck-stop staff, an elderly couple and I were the only three wearing masks.

Talk about “sheeple.” What were all those other people thinking?

I wanted to yell at everybody: Why do you think this COVID crap is getting worse? Because y’all are selfish. I wear a mask to protect you. Why can’t y’all have enough respect to protect me and everybody else around you? Get it together!

But I didn’t yell, because they probably couldn’t have understood what I was screaming through my hot-chili pepper mask.

Gov. Brown has mandated the wearing of masks in all buildings as of July 1. (The Tribes did it a day earlier.) I wonder how that’s going to work. It will be interesting to watch the burly guys who get tough in the Facebook comments buy oil filters for their diesels and it will be curious to watch Karen get bent out of shape buying toilet paper at Walmart.

Wearing a mask isn’t really all that uncomfortable if you get one that fits right. It’s inconvenient, but it doesn’t violate your civil rights or your Constitutional freedom. It’s about civil society and accountability and putting the health of your fellow Americans ahead of your own interests. It’s actually patriotic, boys.

Public health should not be about politics.

COVID-19 does not care if you are a Democrat or a Republican or an Independent. For that matter, it does not care if you are a Baptist, a Catholic or a Muslim. It doesn’t care if you are white or black or red or brown. It doesn’t care if you a fish biologist, unemployed or a U.S. senator. It doesn’t care if you identify as a boy, a girl, or something different. It doesn’t care if you are 12 or 35 or 75 years old. It doesn’t care if you live under a bridge, in the projects or in a castle. If doesn’t care if you live on GA, live paycheck to paycheck, or are comfortable with a healthy stock portfolio.

COVID-19 just doesn’t care, but people can care.

And if we don’t, coronavirus is going to make a lot more people sick and it’s going to make a lot more people die. It soon will make people die that you know. Apparently that’s when it becomes real for those who think they are invincible.

Staying as healthy as possible, and keeping others as healthy as can be, should be the priority.

Listen to the science and respect the experts.

If you support salmon recovery efforts, if you use computers, and if you’ve been vaccinated for polio then you believe in science. You won’t find many doctors, maybe a few crackpots quick to promote hydroxychloroquine, who aren’t on board with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Leaders of the Confederated Tribes, and those in Oregon and Washington – those dang Democratic governors – have told us what we need to do. Unfortunately, we haven’t had that kind of leadership across the country in other states or in the White House and that is leading to this God-awful resurgence of COVID-19.

Summer is here, but COVID-19 is not gone.

Summer is here and we all want to go back to normal, but normal it may never be again.

If we all work toward a goal perhaps we can minimize the problem and hope for a swift vaccine.

If we don’t, no matter what some people believe and want others to believe, it is going to be hell.

Come on America. Get it together.

Wil Phinney is editor of the Confederated Umatilla Journal.